It’s a little crazy that Christmas is Friday, can you believe it? Even though this year has been unlike anything else we’ve ever experienced, there is still the relief of Hope, which is the one thing that keeps me going most days… in all honesty. I’m sitting at a little table in my kitchen to write this, where I sit with the warmth and the quiet of the evening light.
How was today for you? How has the month fared for you? Even through all of the serving, preparing, listening, and counseling this year has required, we have Hope that this is where we’re supposed to be. Being a good friend. Mothering. Care-taking. Praying. Listening. Creating beauty through simple, every day moments around our home. I raise my hands often, seeking help, desperate for a little relief. And yet, I persevere. I pray you are persevering, too.
One way relief came to me today was through giving my children morning baths. Now that it’s nearly dinnertime, and the energy tanks are low, including mine, that is less thing we have to get through. Again, there’s my friend Hope. She’s always nearby, eager to help. Am I looking for her? On the menu tonight: chicken pot pie, cheddar & almond flour biscuits, and salad.
Because I planned ahead and scrubbed four sets of toes this morning, we can all look forward to the reading aloud of Farmer Boy once jammies are on and little faces are washed. There is my friend Hope again, patiently waiting in the joy awaiting.
Before story time, though, I remember the ways I can keep my heart & home focused on the anticipation of Christmas morning. (We would all do well to focus on this.) Each day is a new day to invite joy, inspiration, and warmth into my home. So as I welcome the week of Christmas, here are a few ways I have received an extra boost of inspiration this month. Nothing too fancy, but in every way truly heart-warming and comforting… Here we go!
(image via Pen and Paint)
SIMPLE WAYS TO INVITE JOY & WARMTH INTO OUR HOMES:
- Gather your crayons, the young-at-heart living in your home, and color together. I downloaded my friend Lindsay’s free snowman & gingerbread coloring pages, you can find them HERE. Here’s a gingerbread house coloring page, too! Use washi tape to hang them on the wall, on the front door of your home, to the large picture window in your living room.
2. Make paper snowflakes and hang them on your bedroom windows. Once you watch a quick video lesson, they’re quick to make and fun to hang. Don’t be afraid of the papery mess that ensues. You have a broom and a vacuum, right? —wink
3. A new favorite for us: making citrus garland from oven-dried oranges & grapefruits. The garlands can be hung on the mantle, across a bookshelf, in the front window, on your door, around your Christmas tree, in your children’s bedroom, over the mirror in the bathroom… I used this simple dried orange garland tutorial from my friend Ashley.
4. Let the quiet of the evening adorn you.
5. Read from The Jesus Storybook Bible. Gather your favorite people, don your winter pajamas, cozy blankets, turn down the lights and begin to read aloud as the evening unwinds…
6. Make stovetop popcorn. This always delights my crew.
INSTRUCTIONS: Add a thin layer of oil to a pot. Add one layer of kernels. Turn the heat to medium-high, cover with a lid. Shake the pan so the kernels are coated with oil. Once the popping begins, gather your family. Turn on another burner and melt some butter in a small pan. Set a large bowl on the counter, you’ll be filling it with hot popcorn in just a couple minutes! As the kernel popping slows down, turn down the heat a little. Once the popping slows to about 5 seconds between pop, turn off the heat and pour the popcorn into your bowl. Drizzle the butter. Add Lawry’s salt. Chocolate chips? Eat it plain. Popcorn is a simple delight.
7. Gather your favorite Christmas / winter books and place the stories in a basket near the tree. Read them often. Have fun dictating the stories. Sit around the living room and develop a sequel (or a prequel). Recreate the art from your favorite page or scene. There are so many ways to make our favorite stories come alive.
8. Make a simple plan for a Christmas meal. I’m thinking of a spiral ham that can bake while my children help prepare a few sides: a large salad (with swiss cheese, bacon, salted cashews, dried cherries & chipotle ranch dressing), cornbread casserole, buttered carrots, mashed potatoes and a large bowl of fruit.
9. Are you perpetually tired? Go to bed early, and let a new day refresh your mind, spirit and body.
10. Write a letter to three different people and let “encouragement” be the theme.
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All of these practices are simple ways to invite joy and warmth into our homes. We need it more than ever, right? Indeed. As I finish writing this, now with the swoosh of the dishwasher speaking gently to me, I once again hold on to my friend Hope. Tonight didn’t go as planned, but my behavior wasn’t as planned, either. Perhaps more than my children need it, I need grace.
Wishing you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!
xx, Maggie (and Zack, Maxwell, Natalie, Marigold and Landon)